I battle with depression and today, it’s kicking my a**.
I have tossed the idea around if I wanted to share this because let’s be honest; coming out and admitting that I am battling depression is admitting that my mental health isn’t where it should be, and it scares me of what others will think. It scares me what they will say about me. “I knew she was crazy.” “Something’s always been off about her.” “Or that others will try to dismiss my emotions on a certain event by blaming them on the depression. “Oh Gladys, you’re feelings weren’t really hurt when I called you out your name. It’s just your depression.” I have struggled and struggled and struggled for YEARS silently; so afraid to speak the words out loud myself. Unable to pray about it because I felt like God would be mad at me for being unable to hold on to joy.
These few months have been the worst.
I have distanced myself from everyone as much as I could but remained close enough so that they wouldn’t truly peep what was up. The only ones who sensed it were my husband and Pastor but even they didn’t know how to bring it up to me.
So here’s the thing; there are a lot of people who generally have a misconception of what it means to battle this invisible demon and I thought I’d share what it looks like for me. Because it’s not always “I wanted to kill myself.” It’s not always, “I wanted to drink my problems away”. It’s ALMOST ALWAYS, ” I am drowning UNWILLINGLY because I don’t know how to deal with what life is handing me right now and I am trying to scream out that I need help but the words won’t come because I already feel like a burden and I don’t want to be that to anyone so I will choose to suffer in silence if it means that I won’t be labeled as the “problem child” or the “one somethings always wrong with her” girl. But I digress.
For me, depression looks like my house is a hot and total mess, like Hoarders mess, because I physically have no strength to get up out of the bed.
There is something so strong that has me so down that I am physically and MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY exhausted.
It looks like doing the bare minimal at EVERYTHING in life. It looks like cutting off people and hiding away to read books imaging that I am in some other place where I have joy. It looks like simply telling everyone I’m not feeling well today when asked to go out or “Why didn’t you answer your phone.” It looks like a whole lot of lying to hide the true condition of my current state of mind. It looks like, removing myself from anything that used to cause me joy with this made up illogical excuse that I don’t deserve to be happy. It looks like a hell of a lot of self blame for crappy things I honestly couldn’t control. It looks like all my time waisted, reputation tarnished, because I couldn’t come thru for someone I desperately wanted to, because I couldn’t barely catch my breath that day. It looks like me doing dishes one minute, to bawling on the floor and barely being able to breath from panic attacks. It looks like fear that your THE WORST MOM, WORST WIFE, WORST EMPLOYEE, WORST DAUGHTER, WORST FRIEND because you just can’t show joy the way you desire to.
Depression is a like an Airborne Disease. It infects everything in its vicinity even if you can’t see it. Oh you like to cook, let’s throw some ideas that you suck at it and no one will like your food in your mind. Oh, You like to dance. Lets drain you physically and mentally so you have no desire to do so. Oh, you want to go out and play with your daughter, Let’s hit back to back with negative thoughts about yourself and your parenting. Lets take something trivial and amplify it to make you really feel like a terrible mom.
When I get hit with these bouts of depression, my mind literally works this way:
Me to Hubby: Baby, I’m going to clean the house tomorrow. I promise. I just wasn’t up to it yesterday. (And I truly mean this.)
Hubby: Okay baby no problem. Thank you.
Me: Lays in bed all day.
Hubby comes home: Says nothing, starts to clean.
Me: Baby, please don’t clean. I got it.
Hubby: No baby, let me help you. I can clean too.
MY MINDSET: Omg, I’m a terrible wife. He has worked so hard all day and he has to come home to this messy house that I said I would clean. He probably hates that he married me. I let him down so much.
So now, I close myself off in the room from my husband because I’m embarrassed that I didn’t follow through on my word. And for days, I will only speak one word answers to him and not look at him when he talks because I literally think I’m the worst wife.
That’s what depression is for me.
I know, some of you are probably like, “Gladys, why are you depressed. You have everything. Whats wrong with you? You have no reason to be like this. You’re just ungrateful.”
No. I am a lot of things, but ungrateful isn’t one.
I just never believe I deserve anything that brings me joy because of my past. I struggle with the idea of God loving me because I don’t understand how he could love someone LIKE me. I struggle with depression because I spent years enduring things no one should silently. Afraid to speak. Afraid to say I need help. When I tried to tell those closest to me, it was written off and I always got hit with, “Suck it up.” So to this day, I tell myself to “suck it up.” “It doesn’t matter. I don’t matter.” And though my outward actions show it, no one around me really picked up on it. So I adopted the phrase; “I’m fine.” (Even though I was far from it.)
When you see me, you see a woman who is in a happy marriage with a healthy child. Everyone thinks she’s so sweet. She’s the best cook or baker. She makes great hair products. She’s so gifted. She has a great life.
And I do. I thank God for all the good in my life because I know it comes from Him.
But what you don’t see is the battle. The battle with being sick. The battle with trying to grow your family for two years to find you’re infertile. The inferiority that comes over you when you realize you can’t have the one thing you’ve always wanted: more kids. The battle with heartbreak. The battle with food addiction. The battle with low-self esteem and self-hatred. (It’s hard as hell to be pleased with your accomplishments when you’re never good enough for yourself.) You don’t see the YEARS of insomnia because I just can’t deal with what the hell is happening. You don’t see the molestation. You don’t see the rape. You don’t see the betrayals. You don’t see the years of emotional and mental abuse. You don’t see the tears, which I was why I constantly maintain, that people do not see me. They only see what I want them to see.
And I’m not knocking anyone who doesn’t notice. I’m trying to show you guys, that you can physically be next to someone for YEARS and have no freaking clue who they are and what they are battling. Sometimes, it takes ALL OF MY STRENGTH to physically get out of the bed and LIVE. To simply choose to live.
So back to the drawing board, why am I writing this. I started seeing a psychologist a few weeks ago. I was so afraid to call and set anything up but my anxiety attacks were getting worse and I knew I needed help. So I prayed, and consulted with my husband and my pastor and they both agreed it would be beneficial for me AND it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I still battle. (I have only had 3 sessions so far.) There are so many emotions that go through my mind when I am there but one constant. I always feel hopeful when I leave. Hopeful that I can make it. Hopeful that God can bring me through this. And if you’re wondering, I have no idea if my psychologist is Christian or not. She is completely supportive and encouraging of my faith though.
The hardest part about my sessions is when I hear my voice say such negative things about myself. Or when I’m recounting something traumatic that happened to me. And it becomes hard. Hard to hear the truth that I’ve buried for so long. Hard to bring it to the surface. Because once its out there, and someone else knows, there’s this unwritten law of accountability that takes place. Because now you have to deal with it by letting God deal with it. Now you have to start the healing process….which hurts.
Think about when you get a cut. It hurts, it bleeds. You clean it, bandage it, take some Tylenol. But then as it begins to heal, it gets more uncomfortable. It gets itchy. It starts to bother you. Gets a bit more sore. Sometimes you have to take the bandage off and let it breath then you have to make sure you bandage it back to protect it from infection. Some cuts are worse than others. They take longer to heal. Some cuts are wounds. Deep wounds. And every week the doctor has to clean that wound. And its unbearable pain…but you bear it in hopes that it will heal.
Did you know, when bones break, they heal stronger.
This is what I choose to believe about myself. Yes, let’s be factual here. I’m so tired of lying or thinking I’m less christian because this is my thorn in my side. I battle with depression. I never claim it. I never say, my depression. Because that’s not mines. Its satan’s. And I want no part of it. So yea, I battle this demon everyday. And let me tell you, the days I’m not girded up in prayer. The days I’m not doing my practical exercises assigned by my psychologist. The days I’m not being intentional in living, it kicks my butt. True story. It kicks my butt hard.
The days when I lean on God’s strength in my weakness. The days when I’m honest with my husband and simply tell him what I’m thinking, how I’m thinking, how I’m feeling. The days I live even though I’m complaining about it. The days I say God, im mad because it’s not fair. It’s not fair that this is my battle. Why do I have to fight to cling to my joy. The days I’m tired but I do all I can and then I stand on his Word. The days I speak God’s living Word over my life even if I don’t believe it at that time. The days I make a choice to live guys, a simple choice to live, those are the days when depression has no footing. Oh yea, the negative thoughts come. The insecurities rise up. And if I really piss satan off, I usually have some sort of crazy phone call from a family member telling me I’m worthless in some way. But as I grow with God in this era of my life, I start to see that it’s only a season. It’s a season I don’t want, but none the less, it is a season. And seasons do pass.
So, if anyone is reading this. And you struggle with depression. Here are a few things I want to share with you:
- YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!
- GET HELP. I wish words could explain how much I wish I’d gone to a psychologist or therapist YEARS ago to deal with whats happened in my life and learn how to live this thing called life. There are so many resources out there for you and some of them are free. My job pays for my sessions so don’t worry about being to afford it or not. Try reaching out, search online for any kind of funding that can help you. Most jobs these days offer some sort of program on wellness and this includes mental health. Ask around guys. You know what the Bible say’s:“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
- Please, don’t give up. I know it’s hard. Lord knows, I know. But please, please, please don’t give up.
- DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT PLACE YOURSELF IN TOXIC SITUATIONS. Example: I have family members who will just go in on me. Tell me how I’m not living my life right because of my career choice. (Going to school for nursing :-|) Tell me I’m a terrible parent for homeschooling Lily. I have learned that going to visit for the sake of visiting, is not worth my sanity. If you have anyone in your life and they are negatively affecting your mental health, LIMIT your time with them. I can not tell you how many calls I don’t pick up because I am not in the mental space to even try to deal with their words. Don’t subject yourself to abuse. Because as much as I hate words like that (they make me feel weak), counseling has helped me see and admit ABUSE IS ABUSE. Whether its mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual: IT’S ABUSE. I don’t care if its your own mama. Always honor your parents, but God will teach you to love from a distance. He’s not expecting us to just sit and be beat on in various ways because it makes that person feel better about themselves. (I literally used to hold on to those people who were abusive to me because I thought that cutting them loose meant I wasn’t a true Christian. Like, it meant I didn’t forgive them. Such a lie from the enemy. You can completely forgive someone in your heart but that does not mean to keep them in your life. But that’s a subject for another day.)
- Learn to be OKAY with not being OKAY. I DO NOT MEAN EMBRACE DEPRESSION OR CLAIM IT. HECK NO. We bind that spirit up in the name of Jesus and pleased the blood over our minds and our lives. But what I mean is, its okay to tell God, I’m struggling. Often times we try to fix ourselves up before going to God. It’s literally his pleasure to fix us up lol. He’s not expecting us to come all put together. If we could fix ourselves and make ourselves whole, then what would we need God for??? Sis, or bro, go to God. And be honest. Be honest about every emotion, even the ugly ones. The jealousy, the frustration, the fear, the exhaustion. Spill the beans to God. He can handle it. Trust me.
- Make a decision everyday to follow thru with one thing and don’t overwhelm yourself. As I said, when I get in a bout, my house becomes unbearable. So instead of trying to clean the entire house at ONE time, knowing dang well that will cause a massive anxiety attack. (I’m learning my triggers). I choose one room and set to clean it in entirety that day. When I do, I feel accomplished and I realize that this is manageable. Then the next day, I start on another room. Etc.
- I know this seems weird because clearly I just put all my business out here lol, but I would suggest practicing discernment when sharing that you’re going through counseling. Here’s why. I know this is going to come as a shock to some of you, but everybody that’s in you’re corner ain’t really in your corner. In other words, Everybody ain’t for you. They may be your best friend, your family member, your spouse, but everybody doesn’t want you getting better. Because you getting better, means you are a threat to them and they lose control over you. People, sometimes unconsciously and consciously, can tend to draw themselves to a certain personality type because they feel they can get over on them, or get something out of them. For example: I am a hard worker. I hate when the job isn’t done right. And I am an overly nice person. Sometime because I want and sometimes because of people pleasing (working on that tho’), but people can sense it. So I will find that people will abuse this attribute of mine. And I will be stuck doing their work because they gave me some sob story and they knew my tail would feel bad for them and want the job done right. Or we’ve all heard stories of guys getting with insecure women and chatting them up to get sex and money out of them with no intention of actually loving them. It happens guys. So hear me; until you get good and comfortable in your journey, I don’t advise sharing this sensitive information with everyone. Because it is devastating to hear, “Why are you going to counseling? Ain’t nothing wrong with you. You just want attention.” from those close to you when you’re embarking on the journey of mental, physical, and emotional health. People can dissuade you from moving forward just by little comments like that, so just guard your heart okay. Side note: If someone tells you, “Why are you going to counseling? Don’t go. I can help you.” Get the hell away from that person because I can promise you they aren’t for you. Anyone that you tell your struggling with living and their response is don’t get help, they aren’t for the betterment you’re wellbeing, period.
- Try to do something everyday that you love. Just one thing. If you love to dance, dance in your living room. You love to read, grab a free book from Kindle online. You like to sing, sing a song. Draw a picture. My psychologist asked me what I wanted, and I couldn’t answer. And I realized that I’d spent my life trying desperately to be what others wanted me to be. I just didn’t even know what I liked. I couldn’t even tell her my favorite color because my mind would go to a certain person and what they’d say. So I’m on this journey with God, to do certain things everyday that I used to do when I was younger and see my reaction. Read 14 novels in 2.5 days. I think its safe to say I love reading. 🙂 But I had forgotten because I stopped doing it for so long. It felt good to sort of shut my brain off and get caught up in this new world of whatever book I was reading. No books that made me think or work on myself. Just fun happy stories of love, and romance, and growth. I enjoyed them so much that I couldn’t put them down lol.
- Know that I am proud of you. I’m proud that you decided to read this living testimony. I’m proud that you’re considering getting help. I’m proud that you are here. You’re life is priceless, made that way by the blood of Christ. And if no one has told you that they are proud of you for simply choosing to live, well I am.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post. it’s my first time writing in 6 months or so. That depression will keep you from everything. I want to share these websites and numbers with you. Depression is real guys and its serious. Please know I am not a psychologist, I simply see one 🙂 . I am not here to diagnose anyone. I am not a doctor. I simply shared my testimony. Any advice you take from my post is your own choice and I am not liable for any outcome. However, if you do suffer from depression, please call the helpline OR reach out to local counseling services. Also, if you are ever feeling suicidal or want to hurt someone else, CALL 911 immediately.
So to sum it up, yes it is a fact that I battle with depression BUT the truth is that I serve a God who has blessed me with a psychologist who is helping me learn practical ways to fight this battle, a pastor who is strengthening me spiritually in fighting this battle and a God who simply asks me to put on His armor while He fights the battle for me. I will be praying for all of our journeys. I know God has us covered. I trust Him. Will you?